Daily Walking Might Be Sabotaging Your Fat Loss Efforts
Surely walking is awesome and everyone should do it for overall good health and a lean body? Yes, I strongly recommend that they do. However, I have over my many years in the fitness industry noticed many people walking a lot and not getting any leaner. You may have been to a gym yourself and seen overweight people on the treadmill, while leaner people are doing weights or some cross training or interval training. What's going on?
Not too long ago Steve wrote a good article on walking about the benefits of walking. There were good points in this article, specifically about using a 10,000 steps as a minimum step benchmark.. But the fact that some people would walk and not loose weight still had me thinking.
I often find myself asking “why is that person doing that?” when it comes to a training program or fitness program. I think that many people will walk into a gym and not put too much thought into it…. they'll just do what they understand and what they feel comfortable doing, which I understand. Walking works right? It’s easy to do, I won’t hurt myself, there are plenty of other people doing it, so it must work. I get it. Makes sense.
However – if getting a certain result comes from following a set of certain actions, surely that is what you should do. So why am I suggesting that walking might be sabotaging your fat loss efforts? Surely something is far better than nothing. In fact, I know that something, anything, is far better than doing nothing. No training or exercise is most certainly NOT what I am talking about.
The problem I believe is that many people are doing training, in this case, walking, without achieving a high enough intensity for sparking good levels of fat loss, and therefore convincing themselves that they have some genetic problem and cannot lose body fat.
In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone CAN get leaner, and with today's mix of sedentary lifestyles and poor foods, we have to work a bit harder to get the results we want. Hundreds of years ago nobody was overweight, and our DNA hasn’t changed, so we know that it’s possible to get leaner.
It’s more to do with our daily habits now compared to many years ago. Anyway, I digress…..
To get your body into the habit of losing fat and keeping fat off you need to follow best practice. In my experience, and the fitness industry will mostly follow this model, you need to do the following each week, habitually, to maintain a lean body.
Some strength training.
Twice per week minimum. Strength training is proven to be the number 1 training mode for fat loss. Strength is well supported by research to have an amazing effect on fat loss, and to elevate fat burning metabolism for days after the training session. If you have a trainer that is not recommending strength training in your fat loss program, get a new trainer. You don’t have to do weight training as such; you can do a home based body weight regime and still achieve great things that way.
High-intensity interval training.
Again, twice per week is ideal. This is a very time effective training mode and ensures that your body is burning fat long after exercising has finished. Like Strength training, interval training has a very good metabolic outcome – it helps your body to burn fat for longer as it's trying to recover and repair. The number 1 change I make to clients training to spark fat loss is to get the intensity up. Spark change by testing the aerobic system out. Spark change by putting the body into a period of stress, so it has to adapt and change to improve. Don’t settle for the same stuff over and over again. It does not work.
Some steady state cardio
So your body is burning fat during exercise. The idea here is to get yourself into a good solid ‘huffing and puffing' state. I find that many walkers simply don't get their heart rates high enough to have fitness outcomes, and, therefore, fat burning outcomes. Sadly, most people when walking just won't get their heart rates high enough to be achieving the outcome they want.
So – do not get me wrong – walking is great and has many many positive outcomes. Yes, anything is far better than nothing when it comes to exercise – BUT if you are keen on burning body fat and becoming a leaner version of YOU – the walking simply has to be supplemented with some strength training, some interval training, and some higher level aerobic training too.
I have met many people who have walked and walked only thinking that they'll get in great shape. It hasn't worked. I truly want those people to experience life as a leaner version of themselves, and by adding in some other forms of training, they most certainly CAN do that. Walking fat loss alone doesn't work. it needs a bit more effort than that.
Do the strength training, do the higher level aerobic training, do the HIIT and yield the benefits. Plan your week out to include all this stuff so that you become the best version of you possible. If you want to ramp up the fat burning further, you will want to watch the things you eat and work hard to control portion sizes.